Windrider Forum a perfect introduction to Sundance, filmmaking

Ever since I was assigned to Los Angeles in 2002, I have wanted to come to the Sundance Film Festival. Colleagues and friends from Family Theater/Angelus Student Awards and Fuller Theological Seminary were making plans to attend and create some kind of event for students. In 2004, John and Ed Priddy, award-winning film producers, in collaboration with the above, began the Windrider Forum. They had discovered The Branch, a Christian church in Park City, and the pastor generously provided space — and continues to do so — for students and filmmakers to converse about cinema. The church makes arrangements for students to stay with host families so this weeklong forum would be affordable for all.

“Over the years, the event has expanded from 40 people to 120,” said Robert Johnston, professor of theology and culture at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., “and now Windrider includes students and faculty from Biola University, Taylor University, Northwest College, Point Loma College and Brigham Young University.”

Johnston, who is on hand to speak with students and to guide some question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers during the forum, continued, “The event is broadly ecumenical. For the last four years, the leadership from Angelus Awards from Family Theater Productions (headed by Holy Cross Fr. Wilfred Raymond) were deeply engaged and brought Angelus Award-winning filmmakers and their films to the forum and engage in conversation. The hope is that film and theology students from Catholic universities will participate in the Windrider Forum in the future.”

For Johnston, who has authored and edited several books on theology, film and culture, the enthusiasm for the Windrider Forum is warm.

“As a professor of theology, teaching at a seminary, I value the opportunity to interact with filmmakers and to explore with them what motivates them personally and spiritually to make their films,” he said.

“What everyone discovers (about Sundance films) is that to make an independent film ….

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